Jo Malone Visited Space NK Belfast To Celebrate Her Eponymous Fragrance, Jo by Jo Loves

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As she launches the latest in her evocative scents and her first eponymous scent, Jo Malone CBE sat down with The Style Edit’s founder and Editor-in-chief, Jennifer Taggart at Space NK to discuss her career journey, expertise in the fragrance industry and the story behind Jo by Jo Loves.
Photo Credit: George Pennock Photography

On how she felt making her comeback to the fragrance industry…

The first time around Jo explained she “just jumped on to the shop floor” whereas this time around she had to deal with the evolution of social media as well as the digital age being ever-present in her journey to launching and running the business. Plus, she explained how being older and having previous experience under her belt affected her comeback. “I look back and think, I’m so glad I had the courage to go back and start again.”

On what lured her back into the fragrance industry…

Ultimately it was Jo’s love of fragrance that brought her back. In an adoring and refreshing confession she explained, “It’s not my job or business or company. Fragrance is my best friend. When I create fragrance I’m the best version of myself I can be. When I’m creating fragrances I’m telling stories, taking you through my life through my sense of smells.”

On how she felt receiving her MBE and soon CBE…

One thing that stands out a mile about Jo Malone is not only her determination and tenacity but her ability to remain humble. When asked how she felt about receiving such prestigious recognition for her work she said she felt as though she didn’t deserve it. With her MBE, she received it having gone through one of the toughest times in her life and had just fought cancer. She spoke about the day she received the letter notifying her of her MBE, remembering it being a particularly rough day at work having just lost a contract she really wanted. “I went home and the letter was on the table. I thought to myself ‘Oh God, what do Downing Street want’ and then I opened it and I thought ‘This can’t be for me.” Having grown up in a very working class family, told she wouldn’t amount to anything, Jo spoke of how she felt the recognition of an MBE and now CBE was for everyone else, proving that they too can do it and hoping to inspire them to persevere with their work.
Photo credit: George Pennock Photography

On her experience with synaesthesia…

As someone who suffers from severe dyslexia, Jo spoke of how should she write a letter to someone, you wouldn’t be able to understand a word of it. She explained how she feels her synaethesia made up for that. “When life takes something away with one hand, it will give it back with something else.” Synaesthesia is a neurological trait or condition that means your senses are slightly muddled which in Jo Malone’s case, affects her sense of smell. It means that while we may see the colour purple, she looks at the colour purple and instantly smells muddled leaves in the woods, for example.

On the story Jo by Jo Loves is telling the world…

Jo Malone explained the Jo by Jo Loves story as “that moment when your past, present and future all align and become one moment and you feel as though your life is about to change.” She explained that upon creating the fragrance, she had a moment where she thought, “I’m so glad I fought to come back, fought cancer and can create fragrance.” Her aim had been to create something solely for herself, something that whenever she wore it she felt comforted and reassured. The scent was never created with the purpose to be released, in fact she wore it for an entire year without sharing it with anyone – not even her team who apparently tortured her for just a little access to the product (of which she wouldn’t give). Eventually Jo decided it was time to let the fragrance go and share it with the world and thank goodness she did. It was important to her to remember her 25 years of being a shopkeeper and surviving, something she used Jo by Jo Loves to represent.

On her love of grapefruit…

Grapefruit holds a very prominent feature in the makeup of the Jo by Jo Loves fragrance. In addition to the story of survival, Jo by Jo Loves is also telling the tale of Jo Malone’s love of grapefruit. She explained she’s drawn to the scent because the hints of masculinity present within it alongside the clean edge that the scent holds, something that’s appeared in every scent she’s ever created. Jo told stories of her time in Paris while she was creating the fragrance, how the fragrance house kept telling her it wasn’t possible to add any more grapefruit than she already had but she persisted until it felt right.

On how the Jo Loves Fragrance Paintbrush was born…

“My husband challenged me to do something that no one else does within our industry.” Upon accepting the challenge, Jo came up with the idea for a fragrance brush. She explained that she was sitting at her kitchen table at the time, using a paintbrush to create fragrances – a technique she always uses when working on new scents – and there it was, the idea came to her. From there it took her two years to fully develop the brush into a product. “Some of the best ideas, they’re not so far away. Sometimes they’re sat right beside you.” Jo explained how she loves the idea that when you hand someone a brush, they become the artist and so in doing so with the fragrance brush, she’s changing how people approach fragrance. Her use of paintbrushes and the creative freedom she’s always felt with a brush in her hand has taken her on a journey with art and fragrance and her own creativity in general, opening so many avenues and opportunities for her that previously, she could never have imagined.
Photo Credit: George Pennock Photography

On what surprised her most about launching a fragrance business the second time around…

“The time that we’re living in. These are tough times but when they come upon us, opportunity will arrive.” Upon selling her first brand Jo Malone London to Estée Lauder in 1999, due to a non-compete agreement she couldn’t create new fragrances or skincare lines for five years. “The toughest thing was that I wasn’t able to create fragrance as naturally as I could before the five year break.” Jo admitted to “making every mistake in the book” the second time round. “Packaging, Distribution etc – I was so eager to get back I forgot the basics of business. So I had to dust myself off, eat some humble pie and get back up on the horse.”

On her new, immersive Fragrance Tapas concept…

“It’s four courses of fragrances. Taking two or three fragrance worlds together and colliding.” On the basis that you never forget your first kiss, Jo refers to the experience as the brand’s first kiss with its customers.

Her top tips for applying fragrance…

“Pinstripe or zig zag motion. Rubbing is the worst thing you can do (when applying fragrance). Take your fragrance and decorate it all over your body.”
Photo Credit: George Pennock Photography

Photos by George Pennock Photography. View his full portfolio here.

Shop Jo by Jo Loves at Space NK by clicking here.

Niamh Crawford-Walker

Niamh is a full time fashion and features writer at The Style Edit. Her work has previously appeared in IMAGE magazine, and Emirates Woman.

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